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It is a type of heat engine which works in cyclic compression and expansion of working fluid
at different temperatures,to conver heat energy in mechanical work.It is basically a closed
cycle heat engine which is regenerative with a permanent working fluid as gas.Closed cycle
meaning permanent working fluid is used and regenerative means using internal heat
exchanger and thermal store.It has a efficiency of around 50%.They are very well used for
quite operations and can utilise any source of heat.Because of this quatily it can be used with
alternative and renewable energy sources which makes it gain more usage in recent times.

The History of the Stirling Engine

The Stirling engine is the simplest form of engines, this engine was then called the
economiser was developed by Rev. Robert Stirling of Scotland Edinburgh in 1816. Professor
McQuorne Rankine after sometime showed the working and later developed Robert Stirling’s
engine in the middle of 18th century but this engine was never developed for common use.
The Stirling engine was always on a back seat compared to the steam engines and internal
combustion engines respectively .But in the modern day as it has been forecasted with the
eventual end coming to the fossil fuels, the Stirling engine has again brought back interest to
many developers. The Stirling engine runs on differnt number of fuel sources, and has the
output of work very close to the ideal theoretical value of the efficiency as compared to other
In 1827, Stirling and his brother James patented a second enginevery similar to the Parkinson
and Crossley's air engine but it contained a regenerator. In the year of 1840, Stirling brothers
patented a 3rd engine, with very less changes as compared to previous patent.Later in 1842
James Stirling built in the Dundee Foundry in Scotland, 2 hot air engines. James Stirling
presented the engine in the Civil Engineering Institurtion in the year of 1845. Of this kind the
1st engine which was made and heated had a cylinder having diameter of 12 inches , and
having a stroke length of 2 feet, and having speed of 40 rpm.
All the machinery at the Dundee Foundry Company's was moved by this engine for eight or
ten months and was earlier found capable of raising 700,000 lbs one foot in a minute (approx.
21 HP).
Basic Components
1.External Heat source
This is the main source of energy for working of the engine, the examples of source can be
energy generated from coal or energy from sun or any other source. The basic need of
Stirling engines will be difference in temperature between source from where there is
generation of the power and the heat sink where it goes finally. By using a small temperature
difference between the source and the sink can be very helpful in small uses of the stirling
engine as it contains less power which can be utilised quite fast relatively.

There is amount of gas always traped inside the machine in a closed cylinder.The normal air
can also be used as the gas for working of this engine.Other examples are Hydrogen , Helium
or any other available gas which remains in gaseous state over the range of temperature of
working of the stirling engine. The main purpose of gas is to transfer the heat energy from
source to sink and making the piston work and do the same again. This gas is also known as
the working fluid.

3.Heat Sink
It is the position where the heated working fluid is cool and sent back to source. The basic
structure can be defined as a radiator which gives unusable het to surroundings.

All the stirling engines consists of two pistons, this property differentiate them from all other
types of engine. There are different arrangements of the pistons possible some of which are :
a) Alpha configuration b) Beta configuration c) Gamma Configuration
2 cylinders of different type are used in Alpha type of sterling Engine which are:
• A cold wall cylinder- This cylinder gives cooling of working fluid by external
means for example a cooling system so that working fluid can be reused in
next cycle.
• A hot wall cylinder-This cylinder is connected to the external hear source at
one of it's end and is cooled at other end by some coolong device.
In the case of beta Stirling Engine single cylinder is taken in use that is heated tusing
a heating source at one of its end and at other end cooling device is used to cool it..
Both of the cylinders are connected with the use of a passage through which the
working fluid flows from hot to the cold cylinder for re-use.
6.Heat Exchanger
This part of the engine is also known as the regenerator. This heat exchanger is placed
between the source and sink of heat.The hot working fluid provides the heat to the
regenerator which the regenerators keeps.When the working fluid go back it again takes his
heat which would have been lost without regenerator. This regenerator improves the
efficiency and power of engine .There are presence of multiple regenerators in some stirling

7 Cooling System
A water cooled or Air cooled Effective system is used to cool the wall of cold cylinder of the
Alpha configuration and cold end for the case of Beta Configuration which cools the working
fluid for using again.

8 Crankshaft
This shaft transfer the mechanical work from the piston to the flywheel.The piston moves in
reciprocating moton which is transfered to the circular motion which is obtained from the
flywheel.In case of the stirling engine of alpha configuration hot and cold cylinder pistons are
interlinked with the crankshaft through the crank pins.

9 Flywheel
Flywheel are used in the outside part of the crankshaft.This stores the output of the
engine for later transmission.

Varios metals can be used for the makig of the stirling engine.The engine block is generaly
prepared of a cast aluminum alloy or a cast ductile iron,thesearealso used for making
differennt internal parts such as pistons and crannks, but S-7 tool steel is used in someparts
which requires higgher strength. Lexan, Neoprene, or natural rubber are usedfor making of
Gaskets and seals.The working fluidin the form of pressurized helium or air is filled inside
the cylinder. Cermic Composite(SiC) or High strengthsteelare used in componnents
which require to take very high pressure and temperature.

The Basic characteristic of the stirling engine is definite quantity of working fluid (Gas)
inside. By addition or removal of heat the pressure can be manipulated. Addition of heat
increases pressure and temperature and vice versa. By managing these two process we can
manage the useful work.
The process is as follows which is basically based on stirling cycle:-
1 Heating and Expansion- External source provides the heat, increasing the temperature and
so the pressure of working fluid. This makes the piston expand and give the required work.
2 Flow and cooling-The piston goes up giving gas into the cylinder ,here it gets cooled. This
helps in easy compression, so less work needed in previous step.
3 Compression- the working fluid is compressed and unused heat is removed by cooling
4 Reverse flow and Heating- The compressed working fluid is sent back to initial chamber
and cycle repeats.
Application and Current Status:
1. Stirling engine usually produces very less noise, so they use as submarines engine
for serving purpose which may be secret.
2. Stirling engine are more efficient than non-concentrated photovoltaic cells, so some
countries they use solar Stirling engine to make electricity.
3. By use of the stirling engine in place of steam turbine of nuclear plant it can be
utilised in a Nuclear power plant.
4. Since it work on temperature difference, reversely on applying mechanical work
temperature is generated.In this way it can use both as heat pump and cryocoolers.
The cryocooler can be used to achieve temperature as low as -73K or -200° C. This
temperature is enough to liquify most of the gases. But its cost is high.
5. It is used in personal computer chip as a chip cooling which utilize the waste heat to
drive the fan.
6. It is used in the hybrid electric vehicle
7. It is used in Aircraft engine
8. It is used to provide energy to some satellite